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A man walks near the Nasdaq MarketSite in an empty Times Square in New York on March 29, 2020.

EDUARDO MUNOZ/Reuters

Warner Music Group Inc. said on Tuesday it is aiming to sell up to US$1.82-billion in stock in its U.S. initial public offering, potentially the largest New York IPO so far in 2020 as the market for new stocks rebounds after the COVID-19 pandemic put many debuts on hold.

Warner Music, the world’s third-largest recording label and home to artists including Cardi B, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, set a price target of US$23 to US$26 a share for 70 million Class A shares, the company said in a regulatory filing. At the top end of the range, the IPO would value Warner Music at US$13.26-billion.

Warner Music, majority owned by billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries Inc., is not selling any shares in the listing, with the offering made up entirely of existing shareholders selling stock, a rarity in IPOs.

Story continues below advertisement

Warner Music had in March delayed its IPO as the COVID-19 health crisis rocked capital markets and slammed the brakes on many listings.

The lull, however, is showing signs of lifting, with U.S. insurance policy comparison website SelectQuote Inc. last week raising US$360-million after selling shares in its IPO above its target range. This follows a string of IPOs by biotech, Chinese and blank-cheque companies.

Warner Music posted a net loss of US$74-million in the second quarter ended March 31, compared with a profit of US$67-million a year earlier. The company’s debt totals US$2.98-billion.

The music industry is seen as more resilient to weakness in the broader economy, although Warner Music has cautioned the virus outbreak has hurt physical revenue streams and delayed the release of new recordings, motion pictures and television programs.

Warner Music is expected to price its IPO on June 2 with stock then listing on Nasdaq the next day under the symbol “WMG.”

Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among the underwriters for Warner Music’s IPO.

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